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Challenges Await Newly Appointed Tribunal Prosecutor

The Khmer Rouge tribunal has named a new international investigating judge, who will step into the UN-backed court as it prepares for a complicated trial for four jailed leaders and considers more indictments.

Siegried Blunk, of Germany, will replace Marcel Lemond, who resigned in September following the end of the investigation stage in a case against four Khmer Rouge leaders.

Blunk, who was appointed by order of King Norodom Sihamoni, assumed office on Dec. 1, according to the tribunal.

Blunk will be facing tough questions at the tribunal, which is to decide on two more cases for indictments, something the Cambodian side of the court opposes. Those cases, Nos. 003 and 004, are in the hands of the investigating judges' office.

“We can say there might be new speed or new strategies in relation to the investigation” of the cases, said Long Panhavuth, who monitors the court for the Cambodian Justice Initiative. “That's what we are all waiting to see.”

The investigating judges have yet to endorse a lawyer for the defense of so far unnamed suspects in cases 003 and 004.

Meanwhile, at least one court observer said the investigating judges should move forward on those cases, following the completion of their investigation of Case No. 002 in September.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has said further indictments could destabilize the country, an opinion echoed by other Cambodian tribunal officials.

Blunk studied law at Munich University and wrote a PhD thesis in international law. He has been a judge since 1977 and has handled both civil and criminal cases, according to a tribunal statement. From 2003 to 2005, he served as an international judge at a UN hybrid court in East Timor.